Unions Repeat Call to Find Justice for Murdered Labor Leader Chea Vichea

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Ath Thorn speaks at the 16th anniversary of labor leader Chea Vichea’s murder, in Phnom Penh on January 22, 2020. (Hy Chhay/VOD)

Union leaders on Wednesday urged a reinvestigation into the murder of labor leader Chea Vichea, who was shot dead while buying a morning newspaper in Phnom Penh 16 years ago.

About 100 unionists and friends gathered at Vichea’s statue near Wat Langka to mark the anniversary, placing flowers around the statue and paying tribute to the former president of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

They urged authorities to find Vichea’s killer and end the culture of impunity in Cambodia.

“I would like to appeal to and ask the police, and especially the government, to investigate and find the real killer,” said Mann Seng Hak, vice president of Vichea’s old union.

In 2014, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court had issued a letter to national police to investigate the case and send evidence to the court, but there was no progress, Seng Hak said.

Ath Thorn, president of the Cambodian Labor Confederation, said the government needed to speed up its investigation and make sure that union leaders were protected under the law.

“The government has to guarantee that there will be no murder, violence or discriminaton against union leaders,” Thorn said.

National police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun told VOD that police had arrested some suspects in the case but released them after finding they weren’t connected to the murder.

Police were now waiting for a court order to continue the investigation, Kim Khoeun said.

“If the court gives the order again, we will do it,” he said.

Others at the gathering on Wednesday remembered Vichea’s contributions to the country.

“He appealed to all youth to try hard in any situation. He sacrificed his life, and all people need to try to do whatever it takes to make Cambodia have a real democracy,” said Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions. “We should not be scared. We have to try for our working conditions. If we are scared, are afraid, we will continue to be oppressed.”

(Translated and edited from the original article on VOD Khmer)

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